Giving up alcohol at 24 hasn't been a life sentence – it set me free

Alcohol promised me the world, and gave me nothing.

From the age of 12 it stripped me of my dignity, dreams and self-respect. All it gave me was the constant inability to show up for the life I deserved, and it’s taken me over 10 years to see this.

As a child I felt like I didn’t fit in, and I hated the way I looked. I started drinking at age 12 and found that alcohol took all my anxieties away, so I was drunk most weekends and blackouts were familiar to me from the beginning. I lost friends and relationships because of my behaviour when I was drunk.

This carried on for years; my life was chaotic and tragic, with alcohol at the centre of everything. I made countless promises to myself and those around me. I would only drink on weekends, I wouldn’t do shots, I would pace myself, I always failed and I couldn’t understand why.

I wasn’t just a party girl; I couldn’t stop drinking once I started. I never understood why I got myself in the situations I did when I was drunk.

My friends and family regularly voiced their concern about my drinking and showed their hurt and distaste when I let them down.

My teens were a recurring pattern of harmful behaviour until March 2016, when I’d had enough. I was suicidal, in debt and could finally see that my life had been ruined by alcohol. I vowed to get sober.

I went to groups and did everything I could to not drink. My life got dramatically better but there was a part of me that didn’t fully believe I was an alcoholic. I just wanted all the consequences to stop.

I thought that I couldn’t really be an alcoholic. I was too young, I was over exaggerating!

After 14 months of sobriety, I had forgotten the pain that alcohol had caused both myself and the people around me and started drinking again, thinking I could now control it and within six days, I had missed work.

I thought I could just stop again, but I couldn’t. I was addicted.

I quickly lost any self-esteem I had built up, and was doing the same things I had before and worse.

My behaviour horrified me, but I learnt to hide my shame so that I wasn’t questioned about my drinking.

Life became more and more chaotic as my mental health deteriorated, but to the outside world I was having a great time.

It was a very well oiled machine, I would post photos on social media of all the amazing holidays and events I was going to, but behind the scenes it was a very different story.

I was barely eating and I would make sure any photos were taken before I headed into a blackout. There were never any photos taken the next day when I was in turmoil.

A lot of people would congratulate me on what a great time I was having, and I started to believe the lie. 

The last few years of my drinking were truly horrific. I embarrassed myself in unimaginable ways, I hurt the people I loved the most and almost died several times.

I ended up in another country once, alone without any money or coat and an uncharged phone. I woke up in hospital after suicide attempts – with my despairing mother by my side – only to walk out of the hospital and drink again.

I remember thinking my drinking was like walking to the edge of a cliff and jumping, and every time not knowing if I’d make it.

It’s a very dark and lonely place to live, knowing you have absolutely no control over your own body and choices and accepting it anyway.

I was very lucky to have people who stood by me and supported me in trying to get sober. I had got to the point where I didn’t want to live anymore, with or without alcohol.

Life became more and more chaotic as my mental health deteriorated, but to the outside world I was having a great time.

The day I chose to accept I could no longer drink is the day I became free.

I can now do anything and everything I want, as long as I don’t drink.

It is not a life sentence – as I once thought – but a new life ruled by me and not by alcohol.

If you are reading this and wondering why you can’t ever just have one drink without ruining your life; it doesn’t have to be like that.

If you can relate to the hell I was in, there is a way out. Whatever your age.

Alcohol lied to me constantly. It told me I needed it, it told me this time would be different, it told me life was more fun when I had it, when in actual fact my life without it has given me the very feeling I’ve always craved, real joy.

I am choosing to be open about my journey as I know there must be many people suffering as I did, not knowing how to stop it all.

Getting sober was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but every minute of it was worth it for what I have today.

At 25 I now have the best times of my life sober. I feel I am enough, just as I am. I don’t need to put a substance in me to make me feel at ease with myself.

When I stopped, I thought my life was over. I definitely never thought I would get to the point where I didn’t actually want to drink.

I would say to anyone who is in the darkness of addiction now to be brave and speak up.

You are not alone, and there is another life waiting for you.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the issues covered in this article then further help can be found at Alcoholics Anonymous and Mind.

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